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News/Business. (2013) Mark Leibovich discusses his book, 'This Town Two Parties and a Funeral - Plus Plenty of Valet Parking! - in America's Gilded Capital'.

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Washington 38, Us 9, Michael Hastings 8, Mike Allen 7, Harry Reid 6, Tim Russert 6, Richard Gephardt 3, Lannie Davis 3, Andrea Mitchell 3, Tom Brokaw 3, Chris Matthews 3, New York 3, Kurt 2, Larry King 2, Msnbc 2, Boston 2, Mike 2, Jim Vaned 2, Sarah Palin 2, Nbc 2,
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  CSPAN    Q A    News/Business.  (2013) Mark Leibovich discusses his book,  
   'This Town Two Parties and a Funeral - Plus Plenty of Valet...  

    August 18, 2013
    11:00 - 12:00am EDT  

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handle the aftermath of a disaster. after that, a discussion on human trafficking and the efforts being made to end the practice. >> this week on q&a, "new york times" magazine correspondent and author mark leibowitz discusses his new books titled, "this town," two parties and a funeral plus plenty of valet parking in america's guildled capitol.
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promise keeper's rally in arlington,s virginia you may recall. but the marriage is obviously going very, very well indeed. >> spina bifida rose 1997, spina bifida rose for the al hunt judy woodruff child. what did you see in that clip? you might comment on? >> nothing, andrea mitchell is a terrific journalist, you can't emphasize that enough. just seeing that right now, it just looked like a very friendly almost clubby washington event. jokes are told that looked like a lot of comedy. that's what i saw. >> anything wrong with that? >> no, not really. >> talking -- i think the reference they were making was
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andrea mitchell and al greenspan's wedding that had been held around then. look, they're a power couple. andrea mitchell is a great journalist and alan greenspan is one of the most powerful economic minds and forces in the last few decades. 's an interesting dynamic. had the crossover in the friendship between professional and social life and so forth. >> you write in there for instance, chris dodd, a senator then, now works for the professional picture association he wouldn't lobby. >> he did. now he's head of the most powerful lobbying organizations in washington. what it's emblem mattic of was this fuel class. it sort of described the permanence of washington, the fact that people come here -- they almost always say now a lot of elected officials go on to become lobbyists and consultants and frank is good inside the beltway.
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>> here's some of the exposure when you had already over the first couple of weeks of your published book. let's watch this. >> this town -- >> wow, mark. >> mark liebowitz. >> "this town". >> you described dc is overfed by self-love and overplayed by big media, fueled by big money. >> and a human ladle in the local self-celebration buffet. wow, mark. >> all kinds of reaction to "this town," a washington takedown. mark leibowitz and the town. hypocrisy, thy name is duh. >> there's no index. we can't find out what's going on. people are up in arms about it. >> this book is so widely anticipated, we're seeing this indictment of washington. >> "washington post" created a bootleg index. friends with everybody in this book.
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>> i used to be. >> one thing he wrote, he said politico, mike allen, it's driving comp p conversation. >> it was a wet fettucini slap as opposed to a punch. >> everybody is talking about the book because they think they're in it -- or afraid they're in it. >> why is so afraid of this book? >> what you see there is done before anyone had seen the book. the speculation of this took on a life of its own. and, look, i mean, it's nice to have a book that people are talking about and obviously what happens is people focus on who's up, who's down. who looks worse. what news is broken, what nuggets are out there. but hopefully i don't want the people to miss the more serious point which is that washington is doing very well in a guilded age in some ways while the rest of the country has suffered. >> any reaction to what kind of reaction you've had to the book?
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surprised about any of it? >> not really. i mean, look, when you write a book, i mean, a lot can go wrong. it's sort of the way i approach the world. i have -- i'm somewhat neurotic in my writing and reporting. a lot can go wrong in 110,000 words. i've been pretty shocked by -- i guess if there's been criticism from inside, it's been mostly in the vein of how dare he. meaning how dare an insider give away the secret hand shake. how dare an insider talk about other insiders in a way that perhaps might not be in keeping with the codes that we have in washington. and people keep asking me, why are people uncomfortable here? i welcome the discomfort. i think this is journalism, this is what we do. we should invite discomfort. >> you write about a man named ken duberstein in the book. here's a little bit about what me looks like and sounds like.
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>> ronald reagan was collegial. he delegated. he was a bold stroke leader. he was primary colors not pastels. he was very comfortable in focusing on the three or four things that he ran on in 1980, that he knew he wanted to achieve as president. he was very comfortable inside his own skin. he hired people like jim baker, howard baker, me, others, to get everything else done and also assist him on rebuilding our national security. cutting down on wasteful spending, cutting taxes. making sure that regulations didn't get out of control. and fundamentally ending the cold war. >> why was he a subject in your book? >> well, ken i sort of posited as emblem attic as a former. a former is a class of people that had the office and the
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white house chief of staff at the end of the reagan years six months from the end. he is now for the last 25 years been a former white house chief of staff which is legitimate. that's what he did. and he has sort of continued the identity as a lobbyist and he's been a very, very coveted consultant and wise man. he talks about reagan a lot. look, he's done well for himself as a former. he had a distinguished year in government also. i posited him as someone as emblem attic as someone set for life. >> you said he was 6 1/2 months as the chief of staff has been dining out on it for 20 something years. >> true. >> is that wrong? >> it's not wrong, it just is. it's how washington works. it's -- i mean, you -- what's interesting about washington in this age is that once you have that title, even if it's a very, very short title, even if you
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vote out after one term, you can stay in washington and be a former chief of staff, former congressman, a former chief of staff to a congressman x or y. that, itself, is marketable. you are in the club. and that ice a striking departure from the days in which people would come to washington to serve, serve a little bit, then go back to the farm, which is as i said as the founders had intended it. so there's a new dynamic. a lot of it starts with money, the money available and the resources available for people to do well here. >> robert barnett is who? >> barnett is a super lawyer. i don't know if you have to go to a special law school to become a super lawyer. he's an attorney. he represents republican presidents, democratic presidents, the clinton, sarah palin, cheneys, and what he does is he helps people get big buck deals, tv shows, former senators, lobbyists, current
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lobbyists. he's a fixer. he has sort of cornered the market on helping people in broadcast media, people in the white house, people all over sort of cash in on their post government lives or post public lives to enhance their brands. >> back in 2002, you did an interview. here's what robert barnett looks like. >> we have a strong business department which does deals and acquisitions and structuring. and then we have things like i do, publishing. i represent also i think you know 350 television news correspondents and the contracts. i get a lot of government relations thing, criminal investigations. it's -- my own practice has brought in the firm is generally described like that.
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>> get worse by the hour. if you hire him, you get less money per hour instead of a cut of your book. did you think of going to him for your agent. >> i didn't -- i couldn't write about him if i did. bob has been successful in being able to go to people who are going to get $10 million book deals or $1 million book deals if you look at the hourly rate, it comes to less than 10% of the standard literary fee. no, i didn't think about going to him and i don't think i'll be going to him in the foo uh future. >> how long did it take for you to think of the first sentence of your book which is "tim russert is dead". >> truthfully, i wrote up the first scene of the book is his funeral, a state funeral-like event after this giant of a newsman died in 2008. and essentially, the scene is --
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is this morning but also the very public morning. it was the kennedy center of the performing arts. a lot of networking going on. a lot of congratulating going on. people were working it. it was a quintessential washington theme in a quintessential washington moment. one of my editors in the washington bureau of "the new york times" at the time read it and said, hey, this is a good first line. you should use this. and he sort of suggested i tacit on. i thought about it. there was a little crash at first. but it worked. so i give full credit to dick. >> one of the guys you write a lot about in your book is tom brokaw. here's tom brokaw, brian williams and bruce springsteen from that. >> our friend was a man who awoke every morning as the man who just won the lottery the day before. he was determined to take full
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advantage of a good fortune he couldn't quite believe and share it with everyone around him. >> we were all recipients of tim's heart and its might, the generosity and compassion that flowed from it. i felt qualified to conduct a guided tour of tim's heart. all of us did. >> as i scanned the front row, i got to the left side of the stage and there was a guy in the crisp white shirt and tie. i looked and it was tim and he had on that big irish smile that hid absolutely nothing. he was beaming like the rising sun. >> tell us why tim russert, the mayor of the city you call him, got the attention to start your book. >> the reason tim's death got my attention was first of all, the spectacle around it, which was awesome.
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it was compared to state funerals, literally, gerald ford, ronald reagan, the aftermath of their death. he was the center. he lived at the nexus of media, politics, money. you needed tim russert. when he died in june of 2008, i saw it as an inflex point, sort of in media, in politics, in the country a little bit. the dawn of ane campaign. the economy was about to crash. twitter -- the first campaign that was fully acted out in the on-line -- in cyberspace. and politico was this new force gaining traction in that election. and in a sense, tim russert's death left a vacuum. in this space, there's a anarchy in the peanut gallery with the new media coming in.
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in a sense, the center isn't replaced since tim died. he was a consummate american figure. >> how can one man be that important in a city with all of these stars? >> meet the press was a franchise when he was there it was the place where politicians had to go prove their mettle. it was interesting, you had someone like sarah palin bursting on the scene a few months after tim's death and you wonder if tim was still there, would they have let her anywhere near him. well, i guess tim was the one unquestioned authority of sunday morning but also you needed to prove your mettle there. i don't think anyone has come along since. >> you write about his son. why? >> well, luke russert is interesting. he's sort of a prince.
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he got a job with nbc very soon after he gave an incredibly moving eulogy. and luke -- funny. a lot of people just cast aspersions on him. nepotism gets thrown around a lot. quite obvious the name where luke smith had gotten that job. washington takes care of his own. luke russert has an interesting few years. ig igsz. >> this is from the kennedy center, just a brief excerpt. >> earlier, i delivered my father's eulogy and i would like to share a few excerpts.
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i'm sorry to break the news to every charity group and university and club he spoke to. he had the same speech for all of you, he would tinker it a little bit for who he spoke to. i would like to do the same thing from what i said earlier. >> as you saw this, you saw a lot that you didn't like. >> a lot of what i saw was in the aisles beforehand and after. it had the feel of a cocktail party and there literally was a cocktail party on the roof of the kennedy center afterward. i thought the speaking program, some of the features were good. but it was somewhat of a public ec
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and for nbc. definitely some difference of opinion on how to proceed within the family, within nbc. but, no, i was struck by the spectacle it had become. as they say in the book, tim russert is not so much about him, it was about who was going to fill his void. tom brokaw said welcome friends, familiar lip, the biggest group of all, those who think they're going to replace tim on "meet the press." luke's line was knowing. in a sense, he was kidding, of course. but the notion of telling the same stories over and over again and tweaking it for your audience, tim russert like a lot of people in the media did a lot of paid speeches. he had a brand outside of his own space. like politicians, that's what happened. people tell the same stories and it becomes part of the imprint. >> you've gotten some reviews.
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would you say the industry has given you a lot of publicity. >> i don't have anything to compare it to. >> anybody who won't talk about this book? d you went on and -- >> you had strong language against david gregory? >> he was not a big player in the book. there are some lines that could have been construed as unfriendly. >> anybody else -- we as soon not talk about it? >> probably. i don't know what's going on. it's been easier than i thought. msnbc a number of times in the last couple of days. no, i'm sure there's awkwardness
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and meetings that i'm not privy to. they've been overwhelmingly great. >> why would you expect me to read a bad review. >> because you're brian and we love you for it. >> sure. >> this is a review from amazon. it's just a person called ronaldk204. and there weren't that many negative. but i'm going to get your reaction to it. this author, you, is going to profit from gently exposing a despicable culture that he should be much more angry about. let me stop there. >> that's emblem attic of a criticism i've gotten. a lot of people have thought he's a little too mean in places, a little too incisive. then a school of thought that that comment which is that i went easy because i'm an insider and because i'm taking care of my friends. first of all, the profiting --
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i'm not going -- knock wood, but that's not what the motivation here. ultimately, yeah. there are people on both sides who say i went easy and those who said i didn't go easy enough. i don't know what to say except i guess that might be a balancing year. >> most americans including the president hold congress in low esteem. this is ronaldk 204, whoever he is. 245i are the ones who get rich by hanging around. leibowitz achieves credibility without jeopardizing his access. this group will make him an important figure to reckon with. he will become for a time one of the people he's writing about. >> yeah, i don't know what that means quite. i guess first of all the overwhelming number of subjects in the book are well known and quite powerful on their own
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merits. many of them are elected officials or former elected officials. look, i can't control how people will perceive me afterwards. >> other characters in the book -- we have more video to show them. one of them is -- this is not a character. this is somebody who -- seriously a man named michael hastings who died recently. here's the clip. >> any of the people who fought in the wars that i've spoken to or who reached out to me. they never criticized my reporting. in fact, a lot of them have said to me, this is self-serving for me to say. a lot said to me, this is what it's really like. and that to me is the greatest compliment. if the brass is upset and the think tankers in washington are upset, i feel i did my job. >> he died in a crash that he was driving at 4:00 in the morning in los angeles and the fire and all that. he was 35 years old. he wrote a book about stanley
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mcchrystal, the general of afghanistan who had to leave service. >> it was written before he died. i met him twice. i never knew him. michael hastings wrote what i think was arguably the most consequential story of president oh what's first story. he wrote for rolling stone a profile of stan li mccrystal in which those around him spoke out of school. michael quoted from the conversations, some gray area, some disagreement on whether the ground rules were violated. mccrystal got fired for the remarks. a lot of backlash for hastings. i don't know which ones were or were not violated. ultimately, he was sort of cast out. there was a how dare you sort of outcry against him. as i say in the book, he did have a circling the wagons category. michael hastings is an outsider.
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he's not a part of any club. he broke a big story. and i think it's noteworthy that people like woodward and bernstein, when they broke watergate were outsiders. quite often you have to be outside of the unwritten rules in that club in order to maybe see it freshly or sort of not abide by things you don't know about. >> logan of cbs news had coverage of her own over in afghanistan and iraq criticized michael hastings to you or to somebody else. >> that was in an interview with howie kerts on cnn. >> what was her point? >> the point was i'm quoting from the interview. something doesn't add up here. usually if people in the field, if the brass trusts you and they feel you've been treated them fairly, you'll be invited back. needless to say, michael hastings wouldn't be invited back to a setting like that. but, again, would i have thought
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that's a window into is again the unwritten rules of access journalism. and being -- the importance of being inside for lack of a better term, the team. they have very, very different functions. if you are a beat reporter whether it's in a campaign or in the field somewhere, you're going go thinking about an ongoing relationship but michael hastings might have had an advantage. laura logan is extremely critical. john burns, my colleague at the times, very critical. a lot of people -- in fairness, i wasn't there. i was never a rogue reporter or a battlefield reporter. >> given the kind of book you've written here about a lot of people and most you've seen in public events is michael hastings, good or bad. the whole idea of getting inside and blowing the lid off?
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>> i think it's -- look, without knowing the particulars, if i think he's good. i think he wrote the truth as he knew it. he fact checked it. i mean obviously, i'm not going to litigate disagreements they might have had in the ground rules. they spoke truthfully. i was struck at that point that the coverage around the crystal's comments were why would he let him in? that was bad public relations on his part. poor handling. it was striking to me. it was written as a process rather than a mistake of over candor. >> when you went about reporting for this, how did you -- did you carry a notebook, keep a reporter? >> a lot of things were done in the reporting of "the new york times" and "the washington post". there was a travel log component to some of it. a lot of the interviews were
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taped. sometimes when i was at an event, i would take notes afterwards. it's a real hybrid of different forms. >> when did you start? when did you know you had a book? >> when it was done. >> i mean, when was the first mention that hey, you got a book here. >> the book officially i guess did the deal to write the book i think in april or may of 2010. it was right after new york time's magazines mike allen who was a widely read and individual columnist for politico. he writes for playbook. and that seemed to get the attention of some people who wandered, is that how washington really works today. is that how it looks. is that the news cycle through today's ecology of washington looks like. some people have an idea of fleshing it to a larger picture. >> you pointed out on "the new york times", no one knows where mike allen lives and you tell a story about a friend taking it
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home. he said let me off here, got out of the friend's car and he hailed a taxi so he could go home. what's that about? >> he's an eccentric figure. he's a very, very prominent journalist here. he's extremely private. that was an awkward story. that's the awkward story i've done. i worked with my gal at "the washington post" for years, i've known him for years. and so in some degree, it was a metajournalism exercise. but we -- it -- mike is a character. but beyond being a character and being very private, he is also extremely success fful, promine, influential journalist, someone who made wa work for him in this age but someone who really does drive and talk about the way people cover news around here. >> i was reading. another person we don't know
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much about that drives it discussion is a guy named matt drudge. >> mm-hmm. >> why did you not -- are these the only people that matter in this book? or are they people that you picked? >> people i picked. i only had -- i couldn't be comprehensive. you have to pick people who you think are typical and sort of make a broader point. ma matt drudgg a very powerful website. i didn't write about him -- first of all, it's been around since the late '90s. i think it's established. politico might have suffered here a little bit because, one, it's new. t"the new york times," "the washington post," they've been around a long time. >> mike allen works for politico. >> those who might not know who he is, we have video of him. >> craig cam, we go deep in the newsroom. hopefully mike is with them.
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they can let us know how they're processing this and the different themes they're looking for and planning on writing about tomorrow morning. >> it's merged to one super cam guy. craig gordon, the last few nights have been a lot of drama, surprise us. tonight we think but know what's going to happen, right? the big drama is whether he saved the tape of a single digit win for mitt romney or the network exit polls of the double digit lead is right. how does it affect the coverage? we think we know where the movie is headed. >> we see mike allen all the time. mike allen hides in miami. he doesn't like to hear that but he hadn't been around here for four or five years. >> mike is shoe leather. he's everywhere. you will get e-mails from him at all hours. he seems to be -- you look up
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and all of a sudden he's on c-span, msnbc. he's on the mikey cam and whatever that was. so, no. mike is an insider. i don't think he would pretend otherwise. >> if you live here and get his playbook, what's it look like every day. >> an e-mail that comes anywhere from 5:00 in the morning to 8:00 in the morning. it's an e-mail that goes maybe a few thousand words. it's sort of a synopsis of news that might have broken overnight. what mike has decided is the thing that will drive the conversation that day to use their terminology. and birthday shoutouts and more importantly people read it
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religiously. it's an outside vehicle to get people to setting an agenda in a given day. >> get to trent lot later. naturally, lott said he hates washington. what's the hate washington thing? >> everyone claims to hate washington. there are few washington exceptionalists out there who say i love it there. there's some. trent lot is here because he said this is where the problems are and where the money is. trent lot is in a position do very, very well here. the only place he could do proportionately well is somewhere in mississippi. >> in that clip, we show mike allen and jim vaned high whose job is -- >> the executive director of politico. >> you quote him in here. this quote came to you from him? >> i'll read it.
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>> jim vaned high is contemptuous of washington -- it used to be better reflex of how he relates to news. he said it was largely, and this is true for decades, a small group of middle age left of center overweight men who decided how all of us should see politics and govern us. what is he saying there? so we old timers are worthless. >> he's setting the view that those 20 boys on the bus setting the agenda in the one story they file in a day are over. its's to demock rattize the
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discussion. anyone can tweet or blog about it. i think what jim was saying there is that there is this wild west. there is this notion that the conversation is broken open. i wouldn't be disparaging of the body types of my forebearers. but he -- so i think that he was probably just trying to draw a sharp contrast. >> was there such a group around here? a small group of middle aged -- i don't know what middle aged -- 42 left of center overweight men who decided how all of us should see politics and governess. >> how long have you been at the new york times? >> seven years. >> a lot of the old timers, afraid to mention them, put them in the category, long gone, the novaks, the jack germond's, is
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that what they're talking about? >> seemed to be talking about the boys on the bus icon -- full character. the boys on the bus charicature. and he -- 36 i think in some ways it's a straw man. i didn't work with these people. i think the way in which it used to be is sort of often sort of thrown out there as a sacred cow when, in fact, nostalgia or even vilification for it is a little extreme on both ends. >> margaret carlson who's been in washington for years wrote a review. did you see it? >> everyone tells me not to read reviews. so since i've not followed that advice at all, yes, i've seen it. >> the thing i wanted to bring up in there. she said you're tough on "the club," define the club. >> a free-floating cast of elected officials, former
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elected officials, staffers, lobbyists, journalists, hangers on that sort of constitutes what we call official washington or insider washington. >> are you in the club? >> yes. >> she says although you're tough on the club, you're a man with a heart. >> i would agree with that? >> i convenient that in the reviews. i haven't seen the reference to your heart. what did you think -- you talked about you lost a brother years ago. when was that? >> younger brother, phil, who was three years younger than me. he was in a car accident when he was 17. i was 20. i was a junior in college. he was a passenger and best friend was driving. speeding tow truck to the scene of an accident hit the car and phil was in a coma for five, six years. and then eventually died when he was 23. and i was -- i was living in boston at the time. i went back to boston, i went to the university of michigan so i could be with him and spend time
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with him after work and so forth. so, yeah, no, that was a defining and thoughtful time in my life. >> what impact did it have on you? >> i don't know. >> psychological analysis that i am trying to think for two. >> i just miss him. i miss him a lot. i think of how great it would be to have him into adulthood. his sister is six months younger than me, we're close. it's lost potential, everything. it's mostly without putting into any grand construction, just mostly sadness. >> you tell us in the book that sister lori works at the huffington post. >> she does. >> why did you tell us that? >> when i started writing about aria in a huffing ton, i thought
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it was important to expose that she worked for arianna, but in an adjacent office. >> anyone get mad enough to confront you about the book? >> yeah. in e-mail. >> an example? >> nothing i would say significantly. i think maybe i wish you would consider -- there were some "how dare yous." in a broad category, i've been in this town on 50 years and you focused on this and that. i'm being deliberately vague because i don't want to violate private conversations. there have been many. i'm sure there will be lots of recriminations. there's chatter about this and what i have done. nothing of note. i sort of was surprised because it's been in the bloodstream for a couple of weeks now.
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the response at least from the agreed parties has been pretty amusing. >> given the way you talked about this town, in the end, doesn't everybody appear to benefit. you say the town operates. everybody talks about this book. i've got the index here for "the washington post," 739 names in there. people rushed to the post to see it because you didn't put an index in here. >> right. right. there's a school of thought that says, yes, everyone will benefit. it's interesting. the number of people who have mocked complaint but they say how can i not be in there. >> i thought lannie davis. i didn't make the cut. you didn't make the cut? >> lannie davis a classic washington character not mentioned in my book and managed to be in a lot of coverage about the book. he's a former lawyer -- he was in the clinton administration. he's now kind of a crisis pr
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guy. and he is vigorous and successful in getting attention for himself. so he -- yes, so he complained -- mock complained about not being in there and thanked me and then all of a sudden i tweeted about it and all of a sudden, people are talking about lannie davis even though he wasn't in the book. >> my son went to this quote in your book -- is that a buffet table? chris matthews who was mad about a profile written about him earlier in the year. he blamed that story for costing me a job that i really wanted. chris matthews is known as somebody who will tell people exactly what he thinks. did he tell you off? >> chris -- chris and i had sort of a -- i don't know. i wrote a profile of chris. i think it was in the spring of 2008. and i think most people who know him said it captured chris really well. chris did not like the profile. it was a little awkward to run into him for a few years. he got over it and ultimately
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chris and i i think are fine. the chapter in the end was the scene in the end that said something to the effect -- bottom line, chris and i are fine. >> does it matter if you're fine or not? michael hastings ran into something that's not. did you do your job? >> if you do your job honorably and serve your sources and readers and bosses and the truth, i don't think you have anything to worry about. >> you talk about members of congress, former members of congress, i mentioned earlier about chris dodd. this is a slight hedge compared to what dodd promised when i asked him if he would consider becoming a lobbyist. quote that i can take off the table right now, said dodd. one of the many published occasions in which he reiterated the no lobbying vow. we see this a lot. >> repeatedly. >> why?
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>> i don't know. it's a common reflex. you see when you're in office. you're considered unseemly to say that you are looking for your next job and your lobby job or high-prized consulting job. once you're out of office, the etch-a-sketch is clean to sort of borrow a term. people are free to make a living. they are free to do this whether they say they do or not. there's no penalty to lying or not going to be fined to it. i guess i wrote this because it wears you down. it wears -- it makes people frankly like me cynical. and you have these i'd listic change machines like the obama, 2008 campaign that cesc -- very successful campaign. hope and change, very, very powerfully delivered and daftly by the then senator. they were not going to take --
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they were not going to opt out of the campaign finance system in 2008. they started to raise all kinds of money, they opted out. they said they were not going work with the super ppacs. they said when they were getting outgunned, they said we're going to work with super pacs. they said we're not going to have lobbyists in the white house. this exception and this exception. and any number of never minds that this administration, any number of former senators will just sort of exercise like your recurring get out of jail free card. and it wears you down. and i say that as a journalist but also as someone who would like to think better of people when they say they're going to do certain things. >> what did you think of government when you were at the university of michigan? civics, government? >> i didn't study it. i didn't -- i've always had a very -- growing up with an
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old-fashioned respect for institutions. when i was in ann arbor, the one election was the '84 election between mondale and reagan. i remember then vice president bush spoke at the steps of the union on the anniversary of -- i guess it was the peace corps by john f. kennedy. i don't remember what year it was. '83, '84. i remember him being heckled. being completely appalled that anyone in that office would be heckled, whether it's a democrat or a republican.
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the former democratic majority leader whose willingness to reverse long-held positions in service of paying clients was egregious even by d.c. standards by hired gun opportunism. tell us about richard gephardt. >> richard gephardt is someone who, again, is an elected official, a congressman, a presidential candidate. one of the most passionate and seemingly sincere people you would ever see. i remember one of my favorite political events ever was seeing him on the eve of the iowa caucuses in 2004 in a teamsters rally in marshals town, iowa. you had the huge trucks coming in. he's the son of a milkman driver. he was really -- he got clobbered in iowa. but it was a really great labor rally. then as soon as he got out of office, he represented any number of corporate interests but i would say spotty records
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in labor relations. he produced a number of positions. richard gephardt has become, i think, seen by many as an epitome as someone who checked whatever ideals he had at the door once he left congress in the purposes hoff doing well after. >> you say by 2010 gephardt government affairs was listing the annual billings at $6.5 million up from a pin nance of $625,000 in 2007. in addition to having a top door roster, goldman sachs, 200,000, visa, 200,000, gephardt became a labor consultant for spirit aerosystems where he oversaw tough anti-union campaign. then you go on to talk about pro union he was in congress. >> right. >> you used the word -- the c-word, cynical. we're told so often not to be cynical but to be skeptical. when you walk over that line? >> when you see this? when you see it happening so
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regularly. i mean, again, it's sort of this reflex in washington where it is seen as acceptable to do this. again, people can make a living, i can't make this distinction enough. people can do what they want. but this is supposed to be a city built on public service. maybe this is quaint and outdated to me. the notion is -- the idea that self-service has really taken over the city, i think, to a degree that has become offensive to people inside and outside is a story i don't think has been fully told and this is one of the themes that i tried to flesh out here. >> before we finish, think about if there are people that you would nominate for being on the other side of this. in other words, people -- members of congress or public officials who you think are not cynical about. before we do that, evan bayh, you write about him.
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you say he was in dire need of recovery summer. he was worn down and burned out in announcing the retirement from the senate earlier in 2010. he was extravagant in the grief over what washington had become. what happened to evan bayh. >> he was a former governor, former senator from indiana. he was very ostentatious on the way out. he wrote an op-ed for "the new york times" about how awful it had become. how he wanted to make a difference. how he was just burned out on all of it and he talked about partisanship and everything. and evan bayh then -- i mean, he immediately sort of joined him in the chamber of commerce. he got a pundit's gig on fox. he joined all of the boards. he did pretty much everything -- he also talked in the op-ed about becoming a teacher, making a difference in kids' lives. i don't know if he got around to that. ultimately, yeah, evan bayh was another example of -- a whole
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string of examples of both parties that i talked about. >> when you talked about trent lott, we mentioned earlier the fact that he said he hated washington, you say this on page 170. actually, lot was a little shifty when he abruptly quit the senate not long after the republican colleagues made them their whip. why was he shifty. >> he feels asked if the timing of the resignation that took a lot of people by surprise, a lot of people were going to make a comeback to republican leader, all of a sudden, he quits. he joins the former colleague. in a lobbying firm. a rule is going into effect in which there was a lobbying ban from one year to two year ms. i don't have -- essentially it was a timing issue and it looked a little cute at the time and it was widely remarked upon. >> i want to show you some video from 1984, before you even came to washington. this is the larry king show, radio only. we were simulcasting it over in
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arlington. you can see a couple of people in the picture, including ron nelszen who at that time was at mutual broadcasting. this is larry king in washington. this is the mutual radio network. >> hi, this is barry manilow. >> going to switch it. >> yeah. >> you're on. >> please -- we won't do any at the top, right ing? >> at the top. >> we're going to go to delay, right? >> yeah, we are going to delay.
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>> you're going to get a lot of people here now. >> what happened to tammy haddad? >> what was striking is she doesn't have the white streak in the middle of her head which is sort of her trademark now. she was a long-time producer for larry king. a real dynamo. a force of nature. she worked with chris matthews for a while. afterwards, she and chris parted company i think around 2008. tammy sort of reinvented herself as a full purpose convener of the washington a-list. she posts parties, she does a lot of consulting for media companies in which it's not entirely clear what she does. she has a video component, she produces things, frankly, she's everywhere. and she's sort of, again, someone who made washington work for her and has become -- she would say she's an insider who just likes to bring people together. and she's been a successful businesswoman. >> have you heard from her and how you portrayed her in this
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book. >> i have not heard from her. i portray her, i think, accurately. i mean obviously everyone is entitled to the own story about themselves. no, i haven't heard from tammy. >> curt bardella, the charter here was adapted for "the new york times" magazine a couple of weeks ago. what's the message? >> he was the former press secretary to daryl icen. i found kurt, i was going be the chairman of the house government, oversight committee or the government reform committee. and kurt was in incredibly transparent operator, someone whose ambitions he wore on his sleeve. he joined the workforce at age 17. he didn't go to college. and i thought refreshing but just kind of a naked operator. and for some reason, he let me follow him around. and i was interested in him as a subject in the book.
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and in the course of our dealings together, kurt forwarded me a bunch of e-mails he was receiving in the day-to-day basis to get a full picture of how he was spending his days. a little unusual. politico got wind of it. they wrote a story. they became a scandal that he feels sharing e-mails that he didn't -- from people who didn't know the e-mails were being shared. and he was eventually fired and eventually rehired and it all happened within a few months and so had this beginning-to-end story. >> why was he rehired by darryl isa? was he fired because he became the issue and then -- >> yeah, i think he was fired because he messed up. i think he -- the boss -- it was at the time it was decided it was time to go. he was rehired because he has a very, have close relationship with darryl issa. he was good at his job.
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issa got a lot of press thanks to curt bardelli. he's got talent. >> you write a lot about harry reid. let's watch this little incident from just recently. >> 15 nominees held up for an average of nine months. does this place need to be changed? yes. you get always -- what do you do? look at all the people. always you're here. i don't mind your being here but you get the question. you're a bull. >> the question as i mentioned -- >> what does that say about harry reid? >> harry reid is a real character. i focused on him. first of all, he did you want b have a very, very well defined verbal filtering dwils. he says what's on his mind.
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he's an odd character and someone who i think is fascinating in that he sort of outsourced the things that a lot of the senators care about -- being on tv, getting credit. just sort of the big show horse speeches. he'll relinquish than just on sunday shows. how long are they going to be in charge. he's going to put all charisma on hold and be the guy who's in charge. >> in was publish in the review by "the wall street journal" but it gets to your point. it was a quote from harry reid on the floor -- i believe on the floor of the senate. he's one of the people who smoet much to me reed said of john carry. the lying and the scorning he had over the lanky baste haters. they had to respond privately to colleagues that carey had no
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friends. i say, john carey, reed concluded, i'd love you john carry. he tells everybody how much he loves them. >> harry reid is a politician. he's a ruthless machiavellian but he's effective. not so much of cynicism but again how oddly honest he is. you read an example of what would seem to be dishonest. but i remember sitting with reid the night he became a majority leader. he's with schumer. watching the elections return. he was on the phone with every democrat that won that night who had the 20-second conversations and he would punctuate -- excuse me -- punctuate all of them with some variation. i love you, hillary, claire, won that night. he looked at me at one point and say, they need to hear that.
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i think he meant the politicians -- i don't think he meant it -- it wasn't so much of a wink, but it was a matter of fact harry reid statement. even john kerrey -- telling john carrie on the day he feelsn't running for president again, he said it. john carrie seems to appreciate it. it was public. you can go on to your business. >> list five people in this town who you -- if you did the opposite, a book no one would read where you said that member of congress, that senator, that official in the government is the an antithesis. someone was saying what about the hottest working journalist in town? the general point is not
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everything is black and white. a lot of people are complicated. a lot of them change over time when i get here. i don't sprt myself in this world. by living here, operating in a system, being attached to a mayor league news organization in which people talked to me not because i'm a charming guy, they think they can benefit for some reason or not benefit them for some reason. you do sort of see this as a game. but ultimately, these are people. and, again, a lot of this exists in grays. it sounds like i'm ducking the question. a lot of people are in it for the right reasons. the people on the boom think they are. and ultimately hits a stining scoot. >> andrew ferguson writes in the review, both positive and negative. no, washington is unique because the human pageants is played out on someone else's dime.
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mr. leibowitz is the first professional observer to notice it -- well, isn't the first professional observer to notice that washington's economy is from top-to-bottom paracitic. he is the first not to be especially bothered by it. what's the solution to all of this? is there a need for a solution? and why aren't you more bothered by it? >> first of all, i am bopterred by it. i was bothered enough to write a whole book. fully aware this is subsidized with taxpayers, public trust, whatever you want to say. i'm not in the solutions game. i'm not in the answers game. there's not a chapter at the end where with we say, what should we do? it's not my book to write. i'm a journalist. i'm an observer. i'm trying to hold a mirror to this world hopefully in a way that will help people outside of
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this world understand it. if it brings about prescriptions, fantastic. >> very good, doctor. what kind? >> family practice doctor. we've been married a long time, i guess 20 years. and shep works for the poor in northeast d.c. in a free clinic. she is not involved in politics, not particularly engage in the political media world which i think is a great thing. >> three kids, how manied? >> 12, 9, and 6. front of your book. this town had a picture of a human being here cut off at the face. who is that? >> a great question. a lot of people have asked. . i guess the true answer is the art director of the publisher pulled it off stock photos in the internet. so there's your answer.
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